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What is Epistemology?

What is Epistemology?


School: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Department: International Studies
Course: Intro to World Politics
Professor: Courtney thomas
Term: Spring 2016
Tags: world and Politics
Cost: 50
Name: Politics Study Guide Midterm 2
Description: This covers everything from Neo-Realism to international law.
Uploaded: 10/24/2016
11 Pages 9 Views 18 Unlocks

World politics study guide 2

What is Epistemology?

Lecture 10: Constructivism

o How two states interact today will be different than the future  interactions

o International system is naturally anarchic and states can decide what  that means

o Constructivists like to make politics more complicated  

o The Construction  

 Constructivism says that ALL matters, instead of simplifying  politics like realism or liberalism do 

 Want to understand different agents at different points in history  Nurture (not nature)

 States desires vs. state needs  

What is Ontology?

 Conscious choices made shape politics, which shape history

 Everyone is a socially constructed political being  

 Why do we make assumptions?

 Work against gut instincts

 To understand violence, start with the perpetrators

∙ They think they are the good guys

 Understand political agents as products

 States need: food, land

 States desire: legitimacy, prestige, accomplishment

 Epistemology: how we know what we know

∙ Genealogy of knowledge

∙ How is bias built in to perspective?

 Ontology: how you know who you are?

∙ What does it mean to be part of something bigger than  


 All of us have a tendency to look for information that fulfills our  expectations

∙ What we want to be true vs. what we don’t want to  


 Social facts: sovereignty, citizenship, currency, etc 

Who created the theory of communism in 1800's?

If you want to learn more check out uccs psychology

∙ All of this exists because we made it up 

∙ Idea of belonging (who belongs and who doesn’t? 

∙ Politics is based on taking very seriously things that we  

made up 

∙ Ex) race exists and is very real because we made it up 

∙ Everything constructed is still real because we agree on  


∙ We make our own realities, which means that we can  

remake it 

o The Charge

 Question everything

 Everything we take for granted as natural are usually social  constructions

 What you believe today may not be true down the road

 Focus on contingencies and history, NOT nature

 What you’ve been taught may be biased

 Be open to the possibility that you’re wrong  

 Look for different answers

 Taking something you believe you know back to its roots o Key Assertions

 Alexander Wendt

∙ “Anarchy is what states make of it”

∙ Enmity, rivalry, friendship

 Max Weber

∙ “We are cultural beings with the capacity and the will to  take a deliberate attitude toward the world and to lend it  

to significance”

∙ Culture confirms the meanings that people give to their  action

 Idea that everything is political  

o The Role of War We also discuss several other topics like What are the seven signs of life?

 Power to fix meaning

 Tell you how to think about something

 Define a word

 What is a “genocide”?

∙ Ex) if you get to decide what all the concepts mean, you  are sitting on the role of power

∙ Ex) politicide (executing political opponents) is not  

technically considered genocide

o Strengths of Constructivism

 Forces us to question everything and be critical

Lecture 11: Marxism

o Karl Marx

 Student of capitalism, created the theory of communism in the  1800s  

∙ Economic historian

 Wrote Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital

 Economic Systems

∙ Barter/Communalism feudalism (property is owned,  

everyone else is tied to the land)

 Argues that serfs work land and are given a home and protection in return

 Not pretty, but honor allows this to function

 Lords and serfs coexists economically (benefits lords, but still)  Capitalism: starts in Great Britain  

∙ Analyzed by Marx in Das Kapital during the industrial  

revolution (factories with horrible working conditions)

∙ Bourgeoisie (coined by Marx, were the rich) were making money off the labor of the proletariat (the poor), who  If you want to learn more check out um math

just needed to survive

∙ Capitalism in mid-1800s was ugly

o You work or you die

∙ Marx knew this exploitation couldn’t last because the  lower class will revolt

 Marx’s death: most of the world was communal, some was  feudal bery little was capitalist

 Mark hypothesizes a revolution that will lead to socialism (a  transitionary phase)

 Socialism: workers would own specific means of production ∙ Natural resources should belong to everyone

∙ By the people, for the people

∙ No private ownership of resources

∙ Use plunged into education, health care

∙ Ex) European Coal and Steel community

∙ Leads to communism: people own everything  

o Idealistic, utopian

o Work to the best of your ability and then you are  

taken care of  

 Communalism Feudalism Capitalism Revolution Socialism- Social democracy (welfare) Communism

 Marx turns theory into activism goes to England

∙ Teams up with Engles  writes The Communist Manifesto ∙ “Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but  your chains” (last line of Communist Manifesto)

∙ Convinced that working class will revolt, but they forgot  that the working class can’t read 

o The Bourgeoisie have time to read it and realize  

that Marx is right

o Start to see labor movements

 Alliance the rich make reforms that make workers very happy  Welfare state: (U.S) individuals pay taxes for welfare that  benefit the whole (Social democracy in the UK)

 Capitalism has changed over 100 years

 Lenin and other Russians read and contemplated Marx’s ideas ∙ Russia had a feudalistic society at the time

∙ They decide to go from feudalism to communism instead  of going through all the steps If you want to learn more check out adv 300

∙ You can’t skip anything

∙ Russia dictated all the production during the soviet time  More people live in capitalism today than ever before ∙ Capitalist or socially democratic

o Neo-Marxism

 Marxists: class structure and class dynamics are what matters ∙ Capitalists (bourgeoisie) own all production

∙ Workers (proletariat) own only their labor

 Marxism is structural

 States are not the only actors in international relations

∙ Class is important  

 Capitalism is a system that allows the wealthy and powerful to  become more wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyone  else

∙ Only care about their wealth

o World Systems Theory

 World is divided into 2 tiers

∙ The core

∙ The periphery

 Workers are divided by nationalism  

∙ Ex) “American” before “Worker”  

 Rich countries vs. poor countries

 Poor in rich countries are bought off with cheap consumer goods at the expense of workers in other countries  

∙ We can’t care because we like our luxuries

∙ Ex) goods from China are cheap because of poor working  conditions

 Semi-periphery

∙ Industrial, produce and provide low-end manufacturing ∙ Technically rich, but have horrible working conditions

o Ex) China, Mexico

∙ G-20 economies: Australia, Canada, US, UK, Mexico,  

China, Japan, South Korea, France, etc

o These 20 countries control 80% of global economy

o Represent the core and the semi-periphery

Lecture 13: Feminist IR theory If you want to learn more check out vbwk login

o Power is concentrated in the hands of a few

 There are so many people whose lives are affected by IR, but  don’t have a say

o Feminist IR theory

 Looks at IR from a gendered perspective

 Sex= biology, gender = socially constructed

 Intersex= people who are born neither male or female

 Male and female

 Human chimera: one twin absorbs another

 Every society constructs their own ideas of masculinity and  femininity

 “students see male professors as brilliant geniuses, female  professors as bossy and annoying” (thinkprogress.org)

 International politics = masculine

 Feminist IR scholars seek to change views

∙ How can you look at this from a feminist perspective?

∙ What issues are being ignored?

 Who is effected by IR?

∙ How does IR effect men, women, and children differently? ∙ What other issues effect society besides war and conflict?

 Care about poverty, education, war rape, domestic abuse,  female circumcision. Honor killings, human trafficking, refugee  crisis., child abuse, child brides, etc.  

 Value feminine attributes in IR (forgiveness, compromise, etc..)   Nobody talked about this 20 years ago

 Changed the discipline of IR by focusing on things that happen  to women and children that have been historically ignored

 Amazingly successful

 Encourages us to think about the people who have no say in  politics Don't forget about the age old question of ihsan emperor

 Negatives: it keeps women in a socially constructed box of  feminine attributes

Lecture 14: Non-State actors

o State Centrism

 State is the primary actor of international relations

 Ambiguity what is a state?

 State is a unit

 Lack of similarity between countries

 Anarchy no govt. higher than the state

o Agents of IR and WP

 200 governments

 193 in the UN  

 Over 100K transnational corporations

 Over 10K single-country NGO’s  

 IGO’s (262)

 Terrorist organization

∙ Ex) Islamic state

o Corporations

 Diminish sovereignty because the bypars tax and shipping laws   Control over trade and over currency

 Race to the bottom pollute natural resources for the purpose of  making money

 Who decides the rules?

 Countries become dependent on each other

 Banana Republic: Ecuador, cannot make products outside  their trade agreements. If an outside corporation buys up all the  resources in a country, they can then control what goes on in  that country

o Non-legitimate groups

 International criminals

 Terrorist groups

 Destabilize international politics and order

 Human smuggling: pay somebody to smuggle you into  another country

 Human trafficking: selling people into other things like sex  rings or slavery

 Guerrillas

 Arms and drugs  

 National liberation movements

 Who holds governments accountable?

 International criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ∙ Charge and trial criminals

 International criminal tribunal for Rwanda  

∙ Short lived

 ICC: International Criminal court

∙ The Hague, Netherlands

∙ Genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity

 NGO’s  

∙ Interest groups

∙ non-profits

o Organizations

 Founding documents, rules, executive bodies

 United Nations

o Epistemic Communities

 Non-state actors are as active in world politics as state actors  Specialized and can make change

Lecture 15: Changing Character of Warfare

o Cyberwarfare: technology has allowed for cyber-attacks to be taken  insanely serious  

o World War II: the last official war that the U.S took part in  We don’t fight big wars anymore

 Weapons change, tactics change 

 Enemies change, understanding of war changes 

 Warfare is now practically unrecognizable

o War to Peace  

 14,000+ wars in recorded history

 3.5 billion deaths

 Warfare is nothing new

 Primordial communities didn’t have much war, because there  wasn’t much to fight over

∙ War would’ve led to mutually assured destruction

∙ Warfare really begun around the time of River Valley  


 So much of what we know about warfare comes from the Cold  War

 Monopoly on Violence: only states are able to go to war  (doesn’t apply much anymore because there are non-state  actors)

 slight decline in warfare since Cold War

 2 democracies don’t go to war against each other, but instead  against non-democracies because they are economically  


 Make every country democratic so they don’t go to war o What is war? (hard to define…)

 Fighting between groups

 Geographic area

 Sovereignty

 Differences of beliefs

 Settling conflict by force

 Armed/organized physical conflict

 Violence

 eDeaths? Casualties? Length? (6 day war?)

 All wars are violent, not all violence = war 

∙ Wars are fought with a purpose, reason, goal 

 Diseases changed warfare medical technology lessened  casualties

 Greatest American casualties

∙ D-Day (allied troops: 4,400)

∙ Antietam: 22,000 Americans dead/wounded

 One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter o Carl Von Clausewitz

 “An act of force intended to compel our opponents to fulfill our  will”

 “continuation of politics by other means”

 War doesn’t just happen

 Explains reasons for Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor  Wars aren’t just first shot peace treaty

∙ Wars are about people, government politics and how it all  comes together

o Copeland and Major Wars

 All of the Great Powers in a system are involved  

 All resources funneled into military

∙ Total war

 Purpose of the country was to win the war  

∙ Draft, sacrifice, women are told to enter workforce

∙ Change of social norm

 One or more great power will cease to exist

∙ WWII: Germany, Kind of Japan

o War vs. Cooperation

 Societies are only able to fight wars because population is able  to unite against a common enemy

 Create war by giving society a common enemy 

∙ Works to get reelections (pacifies society)

 Cold war ended who was our enemy now?

∙ Huge military, nothing to fight

∙ Americans are McCarthyists, anti-communists  

∙ Find a new enemy increases cohesion

∙ 9/11 we rally in moments of crisis  

∙ Common enemy = common ground

∙ Marshall plan: common enemy = communists

∙ Common enemy motivates politics for good or for evil o Nature vs. Character of war

 Changes dramatically over time

 How are wars fought? With what weapons? How long are they?  Etc.

o Modern Warfare

 Starts with Napoleon

 Nationalized

∙ People fighting in the name of a nation

 Opposing metanarratives

∙ Ex) communism vs. democracy

 Industrialized

∙ New weapons

∙ WWI was a mess because strategy was based on  

Napoleon, but technology had changed in 100 years

o Everyone thought they had an advantage

 Civilians are now seen as legitimate targets

 Paid for by prescription/taxation

 Governed by rules of warfare

 Just war theory: how are wars allowed to be fought? Who can  be targets?  

 Vietnam middle space between modern and post-modern  warfare

o Post-Modern Warfare

 Organized violence carried on by political units against each  other

 Outsourcing of war to private corporations

 Doesn’t have to be against 2 sovereign states anymore  Rise of non-national identity/loyalty

∙ Religion ethnic groups, etc

 Virtual warfare

∙ Drones

 Ethnic violence

 Rejection of international rules of war

 Importance of soldiers, funding, propaganda

 ISIS threat: tons of people from Russia going to learn to fight  with ISIS , then going back to Russia with this new knowledge  Transnationalism/globalization have transformed warfare ∙ Biological weapons are cheaper and easier to make than  nuclear weapons

o Revolution in military affairs  

 When a state’s military transforms to achieve specific military  results

∙ Ex) technology strategy

∙ Conflict is decided by technology

∙ Asymmetric warfare: new challenge in post-modern  warfare

o Ethics, morality, new theory of war? What is legal?  

What about non-state actors?

 Resurgence of tension between U.S. and Russia

∙ What does this mean for post-modern warfare?

Lecture 16: International Law

o Institution vs. organization  

o Institution: practice, norm

 Ex) UN Treaties (article 5 of NATO: mutual defense)

 Treaties, ideas of framework

 Sovereignty

 Formalized treaties, negotiated, signed by states

 Multilateral, bilateral, regional

 Rules

o Organization: bureaucracies that implement national laws  ex) United Nations, World Health Organization

 organization theory: how do organizations structure themselves   NATO is an organization  

o Skepticism and International Law

 Realists say IL doesn’t matter

 States spend so much time and money making I: and follow it,  even when they don’t want to  

 If you make a rule, people are inclined to follow rules even if  they can get away with breaking them

∙ Ex) North Korea is breaking rules and they don’t care, how does the UN deal with that? (they don’t know how  

because most states don’t break rules)

o International Law: set of norms, rules, practices

 Created by states/other actors to form order and coexistence  (legitimacy)

 Constitutional Institutions

∙ Primary rules and norms of international society without  which society among sovereign states couldn’t exist

∙ The idea of sovereignty helped stop fighting/violence in  Europe

∙ You belong to a country and country belongs to you  

∙ International system wouldn’t exist without these  

 Fundamental Institutions

∙ Represent basic norms/practices that states follow to  

coexist and cooperate  

∙ Trade, diplomacy, currency 

∙ Technically war counts (conflict happens as a result of  


 Issue specific institutions  

∙ Sets of rules/norms/decisions that states use to define  

legitimate actors and actions  

∙ Nuclear non-proliferation treaty 

∙ Very specific/particular

 International law tends to work better when everyone  participates (multilateral) 

∙ U.S. is hostile to international law because it’s not in our  best interest  

∙ IL diminishes freedom/sovereignty

∙ U.S. never signs Treaty of Versailles or joins League of  Nations  

o Conventions of the rights of the child: U.S.  

didn’t sign because they don’t want to say no to  

the execution of a child criminal  

∙ U.S. is very hesitant to sign IL’s because they don’t want  to be hypocritical and sign something they can’t enforce o Part of the struggle of being a superpower

∙ U.S. is critical in creation of many agreements, yet we  don’t sign

o Consent and Legal Obligation

 Consent = primary source of international legal obligation  IL stays the same despite change of leadership  

∙ Supreme law of the land

 States are bound by rules to which they didn’t consent including  customary IL

 Problem of prior consent (US. Vs. Russia?)

 If a country rewrites constitution, are they still bound to IL?  UN’s P5: U.S., Russia, China, France, Great Britain

∙ Russia didn’t exist in 1945, yet still has a seat

∙ When a state dies, are they still bound?

∙ Russia kept seat as a “successor state” and kept  

participation in critical institutions created in Cold War  

∙ Idea of successor states is an idea created by the  

institution to solve the problem of Russia after Cold War

 International Law represents opportunities  

∙ Hope in international system

o Four characteristics until 1945

 States were the primary actors in IL

 Didn’t care about people

 Security, non-intervention, sovereignty, diplomacy

 Order

 Keeps states from going to war

o A new approach

 Human rights

∙ Universal declaration on human rights (1945)

 Minorities, women, children

 Privileges people, not just states

 People are entitled to rights

 Non-state actors help establish international law

 Global issues

∙ Environment, terrorism

 Information security  

∙ Internet is now a human right (knowledge)

 Movement away from states

 Recognizing where state boundaries don’t make sense ∙ De jure: by law

∙ De facto: in fact, /practice

 Possibilities of IL are endless; risks are endless 

 We live in a world that is dominated by sovereignty  ∙ IL can only be as good as the states that make them allow them to be 

 More multilateral, the better 

∙ More countries = more strength 

 Smaller agreements are easier 

 Answer IL: we don’t know yet, it is still being  


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